Finding software for white-box x86 OpenStep turns out to be somewhat harder than for the fetishized black-box 68k NeXT machines.
I recently put together a nice ca. 1997 OpenStep 4.2 machine on top of a Thinkpad 560E ($20 machine...plus $80 of accessories/upgrades and $100 worth of SCSI2SD and proper chain of adapters...), which has been a blast. It's happily running (or as happy as OpenStep ever is, its a hair sluggish next to ... basically all of its contemporaries) with full driver support and such. Current fight is that it doesn't seem to believe in netmasks other than 0xffff0000 so it's been a little fussy to have connected on my network.
I've in particular been looking for some decent serial communication/terminal emulation software that actually supports OpenStep on x86 (not just NextStep on black hardware with their various generations of mutant serial ports), I like being able to zmodem files around between vintage machines and kermit is a little cantankerous.
What is there available in NeXT emulation? I went with the Amiga not the NeXT because the Amiga cost less.
There are several decent options for emulating NeXT stuff. Previous ( http://previous.alternative-system.com/ ) emulates Cubes and Stations quite well (and its 68k core is derived from Hatari, which is derived from UAE, bringing this full circle).
x86 OpenStep runs well in QEMU (with some careful VM configuration choices) or VirtualBox, there are several guides for setting it up.
There was also Icaros and Morphos but I am not sure what going on with those.
"NEXTSPACE is a desktop environment that brings a NeXTSTEP look and feel to Linux."
For a list of NeXT software and NeXTStep.
It's too bad that the NeXT computers were too early to feature flat screens. With the pretty SGI desktop PCs we got to see the award-winning 17.3" 25:16 1600x1024 1600SW monitor.
They showed me what they are working on. And they showed me really three things. But I was so blinded by the first one that I didn’t even really see the other two. One of the things they showed me was object oriented programming – they showed me that but I didn’t even see that. The other one they showed me was a networked computer system… they had over a hundred Alto computers all networked using email etc., etc., I didn’t even see that. I was so blinded by the first thing they showed me, which was the graphical user interface. I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life.
Maybe the best way to describe NeXT is Jobs getting back to the two other things he missed at Xerox.
I've been knowledgeable of NeXT's history for over 15 years (I was a high school student when I first learned of the history of NeXT), but I'm curious about the decisions that led to NeXT picking Mach as opposed to pure 4.2BSD? I'm aware that Avie Tevanian, who was a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon who worked on Mach, was an early NeXT hire, and I'm also aware that before Steve Jobs founded NeXT, he led a project called the BigMac which would have integrated the Macintosh with Unix (https://lowendmac.com/2013/apples-bigmac-project-failed-prec...). NeXTSTEP could be thought of as a continuation of the BigMac project.
Despite being meant as a research system, Mach2 was effectively 4.3BSD with a good, fast, and scalable VM system. I imagine this had to play a role.
(The Mach VM would be reabsorbed into 4.4BSD and inherited by all the *BSDs -- it's since been replaced in all AFAIK, but still interesting)